From the Editor |

A Means to a Better End


Dan Cafaro
Editor-in-Chief of Workspan magazine. 

We live in the Age of Disruption. Some call it the 4th Industrial Revolution. That may sound hyperbolic, but it’s true. The power of the cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), automation, the unprecedented capacity, speed and integration of technological breakthroughs … these are no longer futuristic, forward-thinking inventions. They’re all here, in our homes, smartphones and workplaces, fully deployed and upon us.

The rewards and operations systems that organizations build all deal with databases and large data sets, many of them complex and some, sensitive and personal. There is no escaping the importance of how we collect, analyze, warehouse and protect data. The legal, business and societal implications are too dire for government officials and best-in-class employers to ignore.

In this issue’s cover story, Hive Mind, we examine the newly formed consortium of Amazon, JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway and a few challenges it’s bound to face as it looks to tackle the behemoth known as the U.S. health-care system.

If you’re a bit cynical after the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook debacle and believe that every individual is a walking, talking unit of data just waiting to be harvested, then you may see big data as a threat to our civil liberties in an Orwellian “Big Brother is watching you” way. Or, if you’re a tech enthusiast, you may perceive big data as a mathematical means to a better end for patients, hospitals, governments and society at large.

Now, it’s fair to ask, how do these advancements in science and technology comply with the Affordable Care Act or HIPAA? If a consortium like Amazon’s skirted the legal entanglements and didn’t use employee data passively, but it instead encouraged individuals to actively provide health data, would that be ethical?

If the outcome resulted in a significant cost savings to your employees, then the upside may result in a race to see who’s first in line to volunteer their Fitbit results.

With big data analytics and automation also comes “smart contract” tech, like blockchain, artificial intelligence and AI-powered BOTs and HR chatbots. Does the rise of these tech solutions mean doom and gloom to your profession? Hardly.

We all love consumer-grade apps that make our lives easier and better. Why not embrace innovative tech that secures daily transactions, improves workflow processes and creates efficiencies at work? In theory, it’s all there to free you up to do cooler stuff.

And, yes, you can finally set aside your fears of the Robot Apocalypse. That’s a bunch of hooey. Even if you think of us as inferior bodies of chromosomes and data points, designed to be manipulated and leveraged, you’d be wrong to think robots are coming to take your job. On the contrary, they’re here to help you.

Just ask Siri, Alexa and Cortana. 


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